SIR EDWARD Hunter Blair, Bt, who lives at Parton House, Castle

Douglas, brother of my loyal chum Jamie, Laird of Blairquhan in

Ayrshire, is organising a clan meeting for Blairs at the Perth Highland

Games on August 9. The purpose, apparently, is to elect a chief.

I do think this sort of thing is great fun, and I, for one, am

intrigued to know who will become The Blair of Blair. Jamie, as a

younger brother, would hardly be in the running, and, besides, he is

Chairman of Clan Hunter, who hail from Hunterston. Laurence Blair

Oliphant, at Ardblair Castle, is a possible contender, although he would

have to drop the Oliphant since the Lord Lyon King of Arms, who oversees

such matters, does not recognise chiefs with compound surnames.

Nevertheless, with his positively terrifying red beard, he already looks

the part.

As is so often the case, there is an enthusiastic Clan Blair

Association in the United States, but no such organisation in Scotland.

What a shame. Providing the right people can be persuaded to get

involved, clan societies can be very jolly. I, of course, adhere to Clan

Donnachaidh, and, although our chief -- Robertson of Struan -- lives in

Kent, it was always a great knees-up in the days when Brian Reid, from

the Scottish Office, organised our annual hoolies in the Atholl Palace

Hotel at Pitlochry.

Being unspeakably blue- blooded, my mother was determined that I

should make a suitable marriage and, being rather starry-eyed about

Scottish history -- she had once read Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped

-- she was determined that I should espouse a clan chief. The best laid

plans, as they say . . . I ended up with Old Camperdown. At least she

was pleased with his legendary Scots title, although I suspect she would

have waxed even more lyrical had he been able to muster a few thousand

clansmen into the bargain. Come to think of it, so would I.

Camperdown, of course, used to be a regular at Puffins, the social

luncheon club of the late Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, which was

founded for those of us who regularly visit Edinburgh on Wednesdays to


The qualifications for membership were that one's ancestors had fought

at Flodden, or would have, had they been there. Iain was much

misrepresented as the world's greatest snob, which was not at all the

case. He was profoundly fascinated by all things ancestral, and those

unable to understand such passions were often baffled when he attempted

to connect them to some awfully grand historic Scottish or European

character of whom, in many cases, they had never heard.

Some of us, however, were thrilled to learn that we descended from

Charlemagne. I also remember being mesmerised when Iain informed me that

he was related to Princess Elizabeth Bathery who drank the blood of


Iain's heraldic knowledge knew no bounds. He was able to revive the

Scrymgeour earldom of Dundee for his brother-in-law and to help

reinstate the chiefship of Forsyth, among others. Sir Crispin Agnew of

Lochnaw, his successor as Albany Herald at the Lyon Court, continues

this work having to date resurrected the Johnstone earldom of Annandale

and Hartfell and the chiefship of Moffat.

I am sorry to say that we have not been to Puffins for ages. As far as

I know, it still exists in an upstairs room at Martin's Restaurant in

Rose Street North Lane.

ALAS, one could never have expected it to be the same without Iain and

Hermione, his wife, holding court. Since Iain's sons, Merlin and

Peregrine, spend most of their time in England, there is nobody to act

as master of ceremonies. It has been suggested that I should take on

this role myself and, although I would naturally be flattered to do so,

I suspect that some of the remaining members would think me a trifle


But back to chiefs and clans. There are so many wonderful, romantic

Scottish titles: Lochiel, Mac Cailein Mor, Clanranald, Glengarry, The

Chisholm, The Brodie, The MacLeod, The Macneill of Barra. The ultimate

is, of course, The Lord of the Isles, once a Clan Donald nomenclature,

but currently enjoyed by the Prince of Wales.

I am not at all sure that I would wish my husband to be known as The

Cock of the North, as is the Marquis of Huntly, but I would love my

daughter to be The Maid of Morvern, as is styled the eldest daughter of

Maclean of Duart. Torquil, my son, as you probably know, is The Master

of Camperdown.

But such designations, can cause awful confusion. An American visitor,

rather wealthy and ardent, aware of my reputation for knowing simply

everybody, recently asked me to introduce him to The Five Sisters of

Kintail. What a hoot! It reminded me that my father used to refer to our

two rather over-size female cousins as The Boat of Garten and The Paps

of Jura!